How Big is the Medical Tourism Industry? Part 1: How much?

welcome in many languagesWhat is the value of the medical tourism industry? How large will it grow?

It’s a question that simply won’t go away … mostly because there is no agreement as to what is the answer. Let’s review the economic value of the industry first.

It’s hard enough to believe that medical tourism is a $50-60 billion industry worldwide. And it’s even harder to believe that it’s been growing by 15% to 25% a year.

Depending on who’s counting, the medical tourism industry may be worth as little as $20 billion or as much as $100 billion, and that it’s been growing by leaps and bounds or … it’s not been growing at all.

Today, it’s popular to say that the global medical tourism industry is worth somewhere around $50 billion, give or take $10 or so billion.

Medical tourism is not a $439 billion industry.

When recently the size of the medical tourism industry was stated as a whopping $439 billion (an error in a Visa report that was quickly revised to “about $50 billion”, it is again time to review why $50 billion is used by speakers and experts as “proof” of the size and strength of the industry, and where that came from.

Setting aside, for now, the debate about who to count as a medical tourist, and what activities should be counted for those who partake in medical tourism, a review of current sources shows that the true value of medical tourism may be somewhat less than $50 billion.

Management consulting firms McKinsey & Co. and Deloitte first presented values for the size of the medical tourism industry more than 10 years ago. At the time, these numbers seemed far too high and were met with skepticism and some amusement.

Since then, other research companies have issued their own estimates for the value of the medical tourism industry. These estimates have the benefit of analysis based on up to a decade’s worth of medical travel activity, which the McKinsey and Deloitte reports did not have ten years ago when they were produced.

Pick a number – Estimates and projections cover a wide range.

Here are revealing estimates and projections from other sources that we found on the internet recently, along with the year the estimates and projections were first published and whether they are currently in use.

Some of these estimates and projections originate in cited research, but others give no reference as to source of the information. All values are stated in US$.

  • 2016: Medical Tourism Association: (1) $100 billion and could grow to $3 trillion by 2025 [1]; (2) “100 billion dollars in 2012 from 60 billion dollars in 2006.” [2]
  • 2016: Patients Beyond Borders: $38.5-$55 billion [1]
  • 2015: Patients Beyond Borders: $45-$72 billion, growing at 15-25% [1]
  • 2015: Allied Market Research: projected CAGR growth from 2015 of 15.7% to $143.8 billion in 2022 [3]
  • 2014: RNCOS: Medical tourism market in Asia CAGR growth of around 22% during 2014 to 2018. [3]
  • 2013: SRI International: $50-60 billion [1]
  • 2012: Transparency Market Research: $10.5 billion, growing at CAGR of 17.9% to $32 billion in 2019. [3]
  • 2012: Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)-KPMG: $10.5 billion, growing at CAGR of 17.9% to $32 billion in 2019. [3]
  • 2008: Deloitte: $60 billion. In 2011, the company projected annual growth of 35% for American medical tourists. [3]
  • 2004: McKinsey & Co: $40 billion to $60 billion in 2006 and projected to $100 billion by 2012. [3]
  • [If anyone has other data for the value of the medical tourism industry, please feel free to add to this list, citing the source.]

[1] Source unknown
[2] MTA “official quote” on website, source unknown
[3] Proprietary source/report

Part 2: How many medical tourists are there?

Part 3: Who are the medical tourists?

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